The news seems to be happening at a breakneck pace these days. It hard to keep up with the biggest stories that are constantly evolving where last week’s development pales in comparison to what is happening today. That is the case when the news becomes the news. The LA Weekly, a large alt weekly in LA that had a strong culture music section, was bought by a new ownership group, Semenal Media. In doing so, the new ownership group laid off most of the staff and has hinted at using free writers instead. The backlash has been fierce to the new owners, many of whom have conservative ties and are linked to Orange County. Many concert venues and music institutions are pulling their sponsorship support for the weekly.
Amoeba Records released a statement about how they plan on pulling back their sponsorship from the paper’s annual Sips and Sweets event, which is a big money-maker for the paper, in addition to placing an ad protesting the treatment of the staff.
We were as surprised as anyone to hear about the sale and layoffs at the LA Weekly this past week. Amoeba has had long-standing friendships and working relationships with the writers and editorial staff at the Weekly, and we have shared a history of commitment and passion for the creative community. Our community was rocked by these unexpected, major layoffs. These are friends and colleagues whose voices have been intertwined with ours over the past 16 years as we have all struggled to keep the creative community thriving in Los Angeles.
As an independent retailer, we have historically found the Weeklies (LA, Pasadena, and SF) to be like-minded partners that serve our community responsibly. They have also been acceptable to our advertising partners (primarily artists, music labels, distributors, and charitable organizations). Having print media visibility still carries tremendous value for us, and most of the advertising we run is through the Weeklies.
Our holiday advertising in LA Weekly was planned with our label and distribution partners months ago and has been booked through the end of this year. However, yesterday we pulled our sponsorship from their annual "Sips & Sweets" event and today we pulled a planned back page "institutional" ad for this Thursday’s issue in protest of the recent handling of staff and contractors. We will evaluate our ongoing relationship with the LA Weekly in the New Year, after determining whether or not LA Weekly is able to re-establish itself as credible, empathetic and supportive of the community it serves.
Local concert venues, The Echo and The Regent Theater have pulled out, while indie hip-hop label Mello Music Group has also pulled their support according to Spin.
In addition to music, a growing number of food vendors and restaurants have been pulling out of the Sips and Sweets event on December 14th, according to the LA Eater.
The outrage has come in a series of events transpired quickly at the end of last week as most of the staff was laid off with a mysterious new ownership group coming in to take over the weekly. They eventually revealed themselves in a snarky and condescending letter, though more information has been revealed about who these individuals are. A lot of the outrage is being directed at one of the owners and editor Brian Calle who has a long history and connection to conservative causes, like the Claremont Institute, and writing as opinion editor for the O.C. County Register.